Aug 21, 2002

Mischief and Muscle Cramps on the Road to Enlightment.

I envy those people who wake up one morning and "find God". Those lucky enough to be hitching a ride on the right highway at the right time.

I, on the other hand, seem to be reading the map upside down.

I blame it on my parents, who never sent me to Sunday School. I remember one brief stint at a Vacation Bible School, those repositories of summer ebuliation designed more to save a mother's sanity than a youthful soul. There was also a smattering of Sunday Services. My religious foundation is built on solid sand. I know the words to only the most well-known of Bible verses, but not where they can be found. I still need the songbook to get thru a chorus of "Onward, Christian Soldiers". I lip-synch the Lord's Prayer like the soundtrack to a foreign movie.

I've carried on this legacy, I'm ashamed to say. I never taught my daughter "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep". Who wrote that? The mere thought of her dying before she wakes gives me the willies. Surely reciting that little ditty on a daily basis would now qualify as child abuse. What was that person thinking? We do have a book of Children's Bible Stories. We use it to prop up the broken bureau leg.

So, being a bit of a stranger in a strange spiritual landscape with a still supple soul in my care, I decide to remedy the situation. I decide to start by learning to meditate. Something that requires no more of me than to sit still and empty my mind. Now there's an easy task.


I stumble at the first step - where do I attempt this? I need a quiet, relaxing place. In a house with one dog, two cats, and one child. The birth of whom has gifted me with Post-partum Sensory Acuity and Maternus Sixth Sensious. I can tell someone's drinking from the milk carton three rooms away. Surely, you jest.

And what time of day? Early morning? Evening?

I chose the end of the day, when all creatures legged two and four are winding down. Of course, it takes a little longer for my day to actually end, but all is quiet by that time. Relax, find a comfortable position, clear the mind...

Extricating myself from that position is a real treat when the morning alarm goes off.

But I try again. Ben-Gay, the body's ability to heal, and the mind's propensity to forget. Morning, this time. My waking triggers the feline chorus. Get the cats fed. The dog out for a constitutional. Maybe I better wait until after the morning routine, when things settle down? Get child up. Make breakfast. Get child up. Pack lunch. Get child up. Let dog out again. Threaten to send child to school in pajamas. Send out the door to the bus stop without a minute to spare. Clean the kitchen. Check the day's schedule.

By the time I find the quiet, I am ready for a nap.

The sunroom is a calm and beautiful place to begin, and the old wooden rocker means I'll have both feet on the floor. I close my eyes.

How do I make my mind a blank slate? It's crowded with to-do lists, grocery lists, chore lists, appointments, school projects. I need a really big eraser. So, ok, try a chant. that the cardinal chirping? Did I fill the bird-feeder?

Ooohhmmm....the hum of traffic. When did I last check the tires? Am I overdue for an oil change? Do I need to get gas before my meeting today?

Ooohhmmm...the cat scratches at the back door.

Ooohhmmm...the Indy 500 professional lawn-mower race starts up next door.

Ooohhmmm...did I mail the electric bill that's due? Or was it the phone? nose itches. If I scratch it, is it cheating?

Ooohhmmm...speaking of the phone...

My inner spirit has obviously been captured by my inner child and is playing hide-and-seek.

Maybe I'll try yoga. I've already got the Ben-Gay.

Jul 17, 2002

Kimberly's back, on the eastern shore this time.

I've been reading her blog since I started blogging. This blogging "community" is an unusual sort of place, to say the least. To feel an affinity for someone, to care about their life, worry when they are having problems, feel joy when something wonderful happens. And all about a person who you could walk past on the street and not recognize at all. It's almost like a relationship you might establish with a fictional character, except these people (well, most of them) are very real.

How odd.

Not too long ago, people lived so far apart and communication was so primitive that it was difficult to know even your closest neighbor. Now, you can know so many details about someone who could live only a couple of miles away, who you might see at the local grocer's, or library, or park, and no realize it's them.

Is this a separation of body and soul? To feel like you know someone, put them on your "buddy" list, never having seen them? If you stood next to them in line for a movie, would you be able to tell? Would something "click"? Would there be a sense of deja vu?

I wonder...

Jul 16, 2002

Ah, ha!

I like my coffee. I have little time left for vices (or little opportunity), so drinking coffee is about the only one I can regularly indulge.

Of course, now I can say it's no longer a vice, it's a health regimen. So there.

Jul 7, 2002

In the year I was born:

Kinsey published Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.
Lung cancer was linked to cigarette smoking.
The Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed.
The structure of DNA was determined.
The first major motion picture was filmed in wide-screen CinemaScope.
The first issue of TV Guide was published.

There's an interesting question over at Hormonal Bitch about cheating.

I tend to be a black-or-white kind of person in many things, feeling that "grey areas" are often where the excuses and attempts to justify or assuage guilt are found. So I don't see where this kind of thing needs a lot of debate. The bottom line - will what you're contemplating hurt the relationship or help it? Shaving that square peg "just a little bit", or stretching that round hole "just a little bit" is still changing the shape and losing something in the process.

Cheating is, I suppose, whatever you and your partner determine it is. But the essence of cheating is in your own mind - intention is not always revealed by action. Are you honoring your partner and your relationship? Are those "intimate" conversations and "dancing around the edges" going to strengthen your relationship, or damage it? Do you feel the need to hide it from your partner? Would they be hurt if they knew? Are you being honest with yourself about your true intentions?

A simple dinner with an old friend could be only that, or it could be the first step in keeping someone else on the back burner "just in case". Some flirtatious behaviour can be harmless - but when the behaviour causes pain or discomfort to your partner, what is the purpose? You either honor your relationship, or you don't. You are either working to improve your relationship or you're not. "But" is a grey area.

I recently had this issue with someone I work with. She recently made a commitment to a man who is currently overseas (military), so for the time being she has to be content with phone calls, emails and letters. Then she ran into someone she dated a couple of years ago. And she is going out to a movie with him, just friends. Simple action. Or is it? Will she tell this person about her commitment? Will she tell her commited other about the event? The fact that she hesitates on either answer reveals an intention she is not facing.

Be honest with yourself, or you're cheating both of you. Be truthful about what you need and want. Be realistic about what you can give. You know when you're stepping on that line or you wouldn't be asking the question. You can whitewash your actions, but you know damn well what your intentions are, whether you're willing to face them or not.

Jul 2, 2002

My town puts on a week long celebration during the week of the 4th of July. There's a parade on the 4th, and a carnival every evening that week and all day on the 4th. Fireworks and bands, carnies and crafts, it's a nice time to get out and see some of the people who share this town. Since I'm involved with the local business association, I also work a booth and get a chance to connect with other business people and townspeople "out of their element", so to speak - strolling the midway with their families and riding the merry-go-round with the kids.

You also get to witness the parade of local teens in various stages of dress (or lack of, in too many cases.) The most striking thing is realizing that for years, the comfort level of costume for boys has always been high - baggy pants, shirtless in the heat, comfortable shoes. But for girls? Tight, just this side of revealing too much, strappy shoes, tettering high heels. Pinching here, riding up there. Walking the midway is like strutting the catwalk for future porn queens.

I've informed my daughter that if I ever catch her dressing like that, I'll kill 'er.

Jun 27, 2002

Jun 26, 2002

Took kidlet to the library today for her volunteer work and came back with 3 China Bayles mysteries that I have not yet read. Goodbye, reruns - hello, settling in with a good book.

The dreaded report card came today. Not too bad, although there was one very unacceptable grade due to a lack of interest in turning in assignments. No excuses. The rest was ok, but with a little more effort could have been great. So the summer is definately going to be one of buckling down and taking a ride on the responsibility train. Now that the official teenage years have begun, we're taking the "Get Real" challenge.

Of course, we will also be learning how to get out and have fun. We have both spent too many years in a wash of gray, too much muddling of responsibility and leisure. It's time to make clearer distinctions between the two and see where the two can sometimes be one, owing to one's true passions, not laziness.

Jun 25, 2002

This is important. Go read. Now.

Um, what happened to my archives? I have to work damn hard to be this boring...

A fun new meme, which I found thru Miguel: put "[Your Name] is" in a Google search and come up with a rather humourous list...or scary, maybe...

Ro is boring
Ro is 100% independent
Ro is on the right track
Ro is greater than 1
Ro is cheaper than IX
Ro is realistic
Ro is an arrogant bitch
Ro is very effective at removing inorganic materials
Ro is the mouth
Ro is a bit more sanguine
Ro is a serious responsibility

Jun 24, 2002

Monday Mission

1. Do you wear glasses/contact lenses? If so would you consider going through Lasik surgery? (Or if you already have, please tell us about it)

Yes, but no. I can stick my finger in my eye, no problem, but keeping my eyes open while a laser beam is at work - just can't fathom that.

2. Did you ever have to wear braces? How are your teeth? (any cavities, any pulled teeth, root canals, etc.)

Almost wore the braces, but since the problem was really with my jaw, there was no guarantee they would work. Yes to cavities, not because I don't brush but because my teeth formed with miniscule "pockets" and there were no water-pick type hygiene products back in the "olden days".

3. What (if any) recent movies have moved you emotionally? Which one and how so?

Can't really think of anything - I usually only view movies to relax and de-stress, so I go for the humorous or mystery type flicks. Nothing too emotionally stirring.

4. I visited my dear Mema in the managed care facility Sunday and while she is doing well, I was sad for her. Living out your final days/years someplace like that seems so lonely to me. Would you rather live the remainder of your golden years in a rest home, or pass away before it came to that?

I plan to live a good, long life, be audacious and witty to the end, and die in my sleep.

5. Sometimes, but not nearly often enough, I will just stop and marvel at the amazing planet on which we live. The eco-system, life and death, nature, the perfect balance that keeps us alive, the universe, it can all be mind-boggling if you let your mind get carried away. What natural creation or phenomenon just flat-out leaves you with a sense of wonder?

I am amazed at the power of water - how it can carve out canyons and make jagged stones smooth as glass. Yet its calming effects are just as strong.

6. Have you ever been in a fist fight or a situation where you had to get physically violent with someone else? How did that come about? Any consequences?

No - although I have had boyfriends try to pull the macho man routine. I was not impressed.

7. Many times I look back in hindsight and think of how I should have handled a situation. Are there any recent happenings that you wish you would have handled differently? What happened and what do you wish you'd done?

The kidlet's friend - I wish I'd taken a longer look at the situation before letting the friendship develop so far. This girl doesn't have many friends and doesn't get invited to people's homes very often. Unfortunately, now I know why.

Jun 21, 2002

Well, the kidlet is out of school for the summer, and my latest project has been finding her something to do besides gluing herself to one screen or another. Since there is no budget for summer camp, and since she's at that age where camp is a bore anyway, options are limited. She's signed up to volunteer at the library and has already put in a few hours. Altho not yet too thrilled about it, I think it will grow on her since she's a helpful sort at heart and will have a chance to showcase her cleverness and skill. A few others she knows from school will be there occasionally, and altho she is not friends with them, they do share some common interests. She's not too skilled in the social department, but since she does not have the best of role models (namely, me) that's not altogether unexpected. Hopefully, this experience will help with that.

As for me, I've put the word out that I'm looking for some part-time work, just to bring enough in to get some of these bills paid and allow me to concentrate on getting this business into a profit margin. Being in business for yourself is a bitch, as all those hats weigh rather heavy on your head; it's a rare bird who is skilled in all the necessary departments - marketing, sales, accounting, customer service, amintenance, reception, administrative and all the rest. It's such a roller coaster ride, and I need the hills and valleys to even out a bit so I can catch my breath.

Jun 20, 2002

If you are a cat lover, especially of the Siamese, Hallmarks of Felinity will have you in stitches.

Jun 19, 2002

I feel sometimes as tho' I am living in some sort of hotel where the owners have gone on vacation and left the trainees in charge.

Jun 18, 2002

No, I haven't taken off for the deep, deep sea. I've discovered Google catalogues.

Jun 14, 2002

With the way things have been going the past few days (hence the lack of intelligent blogging), I'm ready to pack up and move here.


Jun 12, 2002

Morning Mantra

I am compatant and successful. I am compatent and succesful. I am competent and successful.

I am unable to spell the damn word.

Jun 11, 2002

Rented Moulin Rouge. I only watched, oh, the first 20 minutes. Like putting my eyeballs in a blender.

Jun 8, 2002

Now this makes me want to buy a MAC...

Jun 7, 2002

For those of you who read the adventure of the tree (it's back there somewhere, and I'd link it, but I'm too damn lazy), you'll remember that I got along ok with my neighbor until his tree fell down in my yard and he denied it was his. Which it obviously was - so much so that his insurance agent was embarassed to be representing him.

The tree treachery gave way to the boundary dispute, with him refusing to mow the 2" strip of ground that I suppose he was trying to say was mine, and so there, the tree must have been mine. Problem is, it's so clearly his ground as he's also left spots that arrow in between his own shrubbery. I suppose if he's trying to say the grass is mine, then it stands to reason the shrubs must be mine too. So I guess I can move them to a location I like better - like over to the other side of the yard. How does that grab ya', you silly twit?

Well, I left the grass as it is - he must have mistaken me for one of those obsessive-compulsive lawn jockeys who mow their grass every other day and trim it with cuticle scissors for that golf-course perfection. Wake up! I mowed the lawn 4 days ago and haven't gotten out the weed-whacker yet.

Which brings me to the subject of weeds. There's a big 'ol weed growing between the arborvitae planted not too long ago (some before the tree treachery, some after.) Jovial Joe must think I left it grow there on purpose. Now, if he thinks back, he'll realize that was always the last area I cleaned up in the Spring, because it's a pain and not actually a garden - just some iris that desparately need dividing. He can see the weed from his side, but I can't really see it from mine as it's partially hidden by the tree. I just never gave it much thought.

But apparently he has. So now he's left some huge weeds growing on the side of one of his shrubs. Facing my house.

I wonder if he sits up at night, fretting and plotting his next move? I bet he sits there, sipping morning coffee and discussing strategy. I'm awfully pleased I can provide such entertainment.

But I know he's dying to pull the damn things up. So it seems I'm the only one getting a real chuckle out of it all. Silly man.

Jun 6, 2002

I got "The Look" yesterday. You know, the one designed to explode my head if only she had that talent? We were at the library - she picked out one book, a Simpson's comic book. It's entertaining, yes, but the deal is three books, and one of them must be "substantial". No fluff. So at least two more books were needed. But of course, she didn't want two more books. So in my best whispered "I am your Mother!" voice I told her "You better change your attitude on this. I am NOT letting your brain turn to mush. You pick out the books, or I pick out the books. But you need two more books!" That's when I got "The Look".

We also got the books.

Jun 5, 2002

This whole Hoopty hullabaloo has shaking my head. I do like Jon's comment, and think he's hit the nail on the head.

Maybe it's because I'm older than dirt, or maybe it's because I'm a natural born cynic. (I almost got caught up in the whole Kaycee thing, too, but that little voice kept saying "waaaiiit a minute".) So I'm checking out the site of a guy who calls himself "hoopty". Who has a ring that focuses on a woman's natural (or not) endowments. The more exposed the better. Who likes the attention of women, the more endowed the better. The sexier, the better. The prettier, the better. A general, all-around, good-time guy if I ever saw one.

Donate money to this guy? Sight unseen? I wouldn't do it if he was my next-door neighbor for the last 10 years. Party with him? Sure. Lend him my lawnmower? No way. He's definately good for a laugh. But when responsibility steps in, this is the kind of guy that's gonna check out.

All in good fun.

Mom has spoken.

Monday Memories (yeah, ok, I'm a little late. Procrastination is an art.)

Do you have a memory of being sick as a child? It might not have been anything more serious than a bad cold, or you may have had your tonsils out.. it could be anything. What do you remember?

I remember having the chicken pox and being on my grandmother's couch, but that's all for that one. I also remember, years later, having the mumps and the measles at the same time. My mother smeared some black gunk all over my throat and wrapped it in a cloth. Disgusting. One of those old-fashioned country remedies. Still have my tonsils, still have my appendix.

Jun 4, 2002

Walkaway Joe

Kimberly, I feel for you. Life is really riding your ass with lessons, but you're hangin' in. Keep it up.

As for H. - hard as it is, it's time for tough love, dear. As Maya Angelou said, "When people show you who they are, believe them". Goes hand in hand with "you teach people how to treat you." A Walkaway Joe will keep on walking if he never has to face the final decision to stay or go. You are not worthy of that. Yes, there's a reason he keeps coming back, but there's also a reason he keeps leaving. Only one answer, no matter how nice the reunions are, and the letters, and the phone calls, and all the rest.

Make the decision, or I'll make it for you. If you walk, keep on walking. This door ain't gonna open no more...

You need to concentrate on your children. And someone who loves you and supports you should see that and be there. Tough as it may be. He's showing you who he is. Believe him.

Jun 3, 2002

The ex called to see what we thought of "The Meeting". It's rare to see this interest - after all, he's done everything he could do to avoid any obligations whatsoever for so many years.

So, a little background. The latest trip to DR, him hoping to get a windfall in repayment of back support now that there was a lump sum payment from SS, me hoping to get thru this as quickly as possible so I could get back to reality. (Every time he's gone for some kind of reduction, he's ended up paying more. You think he'd learn.) Turns out, he's now in much of the same position he subjected me to all these years - raising a child with no help from the other parent, and not getting the child support the other parent should be paying and you know they could pay but you can't prove it. In fact, I gently brought this up during the meeting when I asked him how it felt. The look in his eyes was priceless.

Things, of course, didn't turn out like he expected. Yes, he had to pay more. Not much, but when you were expecting a windfall and end up paying...I was amazed he kept his composure. We actually had a civil conversation outside of the courthouse. I suppose his new marriage and having the responsibility of raising a child on his shoulders for a change have given him a new perspective. I also reminded him that of his 3 daughters, ours is the only one he has never done anything for.

We talked about changing that. I had originally suggested meeting the week prior to the date we actually did. That didn't work out because the New Wife "had to do something with her family". No problem. She didn't have to be there, but I thought it would be nice. I wanted to meet her outside of the courtroom, since, if this all worked out, she may be a big part of my daughter's life, and it was important that she didn't feel there were any hidden motives on my part. (Don't worry dear, I do not want him back.)

We decided to meet at a pizza place. Surprisingly, he called prior to the meeting to let me know that New Wife would be late. He didn't want us to walk in and see him sitting there alone and think he was "pulling anything". (Looking back, I don't know how much of this is coming from him or may be coming from her.) I thanked him, and we confirmed the plans.

The time comes. My daughter is composed, but I could tell she was looking forward to it. We walk in, he's already there with his daughter from a relationship after we broke up (there's a 3 year age difference.) He stands up to hug her, but thankfully doesn't push it. She's not at the age where she wants to be hugged in public my me, let alone a virtual stranger. We decide the seating arrangements and sit down to chat until New Wife gets there. Our daughter, of course, doesn't speak. Most of the talking was done thru the kids.

All things considered, it was a nice time. I did notice, however, that some things haven't changed. Specifically:

1. The "event" the New Wife had to do with her family? Turns out to be a trip to Cape Cod with her new family - namely, my ex and kids. Not, as one would originally assume, with her parents or siblings. So, as usual, he didn't really lie, just an enormous twist in perception.

2. There was little affection at that table. You wouldn't have expected it between him and me, or even between him and our daughter. But between him and the New Wife? Or the New Wife and the daughter (who's a little cutie, BTW)? No hugs, kisses, how was your day. Nada. And they apparently haven't known each other very long. It seems like they'd been together less than a year. Which in my opinion would lead to more affection - the honeymoon is still on.

So what happens now? I have my suspicions, but that's a story for another day.

Jun 2, 2002

The If Project for June

"If you could relive one day of your life without changing any of the events, which day would you choose? How willing are you to risk discovering that nostalgia has clouded the accuracy of your memories? "

The day my daughter was born. I knew at that point my marriage was not going to work. (Hell, I knew that the day the pregnancy results were in and he realized the jig was up, that if there was no meaning behind the words it was too late now.)

The reality of that situation was not pleasant. Those first few days, few months, were so stressful. I still can't look on those early baby pictures without feeling the anguish. But she is the most incredible gift, the proof that there is eternity, that love is boundless.

Jun 1, 2002

Now, it seems to me they should be able to have all the computers filtered so kids are protected. Suppose there's something you, an adult, want to look at... oh, ok, let's say porn. Well, you just go to the nice librarian and ask them to take the filters off.

But it seems some people might be too embarrassed to do that. Adult people. Full grown, responsible for their own actions, adult people. And the courts are a little worried about that.

My goodness. We certainly wouldn't want some poor 40 year old man to be embarrassed because that sweet little old librarian lady might think he wants to oogle at nekkid women. Good heavens, no.

We'd much rather the kids just fend for themselves. See what ever it is they might accidentally discover. What's a little shock, discomfort, and confusion in a child compared to a full grown adult being, my goodness, embarrassed? Better yet, let's drag poor mom or dad to stand behind them while they research their school report. Just in case.

Because, you know, we don't want that poor guy to have to be embarrassed.

I like law. But sometimes, I must admit I can't figure out what the hell judges are thinking.

There's a piece of evidence. It practically shouts guilt, and helps to proves what the plaintiff is trying to prove. But it's not allowed to be entered into evidence. Why?

Because the defense would suffer "considerable prejudice". What the hell does that mean? The jury might get the idea that because they did something that makes them look guilty, they might actually be guilty?

Isn't that the idea?

May 31, 2002

Dear Inner Critic,

Shut the fuck up. You are beastly and unfair. Much too critical. What do you do that is so wonderful? You chastise and clamor. You stifle. You are too much about structure and nothing about creativity. Encouraging creativity, and flow. You are not helpful at all.

You are the one that keeps the gates closed, that locks all the treasures inside.

What are you so afraid of? That I won't need you any more? You are like a jealous parent, no life after the fledglings have left the nest.

Find another vocation. Leave me alone. I want to write. I want to create beautiful and inspiring things. I know it is in me, struggling. Help me to bring it forth; don't stand there with your shoulder against the door and your feet firmly planted, pushing with all your might.

Open the door and lead them into the light. Nurture them, and teach them to grow. Your position will be set for life. And a much happier one.

I am Viscountess Strong Cloud. Ya-Ya!

Terrorism has been successful because there is no centralization. The phenomenon of the internet is successful because there is no centralization (and was developed specifically along those lines.) So what does the FBI do? Overhaul itself to increase centralization.

Ironic, no?

May 30, 2002

Thursday Threesome

Onesome. Healthy. Tell us about one thing you did for yourself that's healthy - and not just physical, mental and emotional health matter, too!

I try to start out the day with a little "centering". I get up early, fix a fresh cup of coffee, and sit in the sunroom. I set my "intentions" for the day, and reflect on what a great day it will be. I found that when I used to get up and jump on the email train, the only stop was anxiety city. So I don't do that anymore.

Twosome. Wealthy. What in life makes you feel wealthy in your heart?

I have found a spiritual community of wonderful, kind, sharing people who believe in peace and tolerance. I have been blessed with a daughter with a beautiful soul who makes all the struggles worth the strife.

Threesome. Wise. Share your favorite proverb or motto... or just make one up yourself

"Rough winds make strong timber." I don't know who said it, but I've carried it with me forever.

The results of my Princeton Review Career Quiz:
"People with yellow Interests like job responsibilities that include organizing and systematizing, and professions that are detail-oriented, predictable, and objective. People with yellow Interests enjoy activities that include: ordering, numbering, scheduling, systematizing, preserving, maintaining, measuring, specifying details, and archiving, which often lead to work in research, banking, accounting, systems analysis, tax law, finance, government work, and engineering."

Well, I do love research and law. Government work? I suppose I could use 3-4 months vacation, every national, state, and local holiday off, and benefits galore. But being a screw-off and never having to worry about getting canned? Yeah, guess I could use that too.

May 28, 2002

I have been very wrong about the people next door.

I've lived here for about seven years now and the people next door seemed rather nice, as neighbors go. They minded their business, I minded mine. We smiled and waved when we saw each other outside, and if not too many steps had to be taken, walked over and chatted a little. Usually about the groundhog population or the stray dogs that wandered into the yards every once in awhile. Small stuff. But friendly.

Until the tree.

The tree at the corner of the properties came down in the Big Storm. It was just waiting for the moment, having lost several large branches and scattering several smaller ones about over the years. It was only a matter of time - it was planted many years ago when my aunt and uncle owned this house (by a former neighbor, not the same as the current owner). Planted on that property.

Therefore, I was well aware of which property the tree belonged on. But when the tree came down, damaging a couple of my trees in the process, my neighbor claimed it was not his. He never said who's tree he thought it was. His answer was only "Not mine." Even though a simple glance at the other trees firmly planted on his property that he had no trouble claiming as his own would show they were all the same tree, all planted in a U-shape around the barbecue pit.

So there were a couple of heated phone conversations and a visit by his insurance agent. Who, by the way, had no trouble seeing that the tree was, indeed, on his client's property no matter how much his client protested. Even when his client insinuated that I had gone out, pulled up the iron pin embedded in the ground to mark the property behind us, and moved it. A pin put there by a local developer with money to burn who would have sued my ass in a heartbeat. The agent approved the check to cover not only the removal of the tree but the replacement of one of my trees damaged in the fall.

Should have ended there.

Now we have the property line dispute. Previously, when I mowed the grass, I would often go over the line a little bit to save my neighbor some trimming. They never seemed to mind, and I never objected when they mowed over a little on my side. No big deal.

After the tree incident, however, I have been careful to stay on my side of the line. I was taken by suprise over the reaction to the tree and am erring on the side of caution. Especially after being accused (in a round-about way) of such treachery as moving a property marker. You just never know. It's easy to see where the line is. Just head straight for the edge of the front garden.

My neighbor, however, has other ideas. So there is now a little strip of unmowed grass no more than 2 inches wide between where I mowed on Saturday and he mowed yesterday.

I suppose he's making a point. Do you think he realizes that the only point he is making is that he's an idiot?

Honestly. Men and their territory. I suppose I'll find him out there one day, pissing a boundary line....

May 27, 2002

Could this day have been more boring? The weather was so-so. Little rain showers now and then. In addition to the fact that it's the end of the month and the money has run out. Can't even afford a lousy package of hot dogs. Plenty of rolls, no dogs. Or burgers. Sheesh.

Well, this certainly points to the importance of paying attention. Duh.

The female cardinal is at the feeder, "chit, chit, chit"ing her opinion that all is well and it is now time to eat.

Monday Memories
What's one of your earliest memories of something awful that was "news".

I was in school when it was announced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. There was so much in the air: surprise, sadness, curiosity. Such confusing emotions. Someone important had been shot, someone who was not supposed to die. Who could kill a president? A feeling of apprehension that something even worse was to come. Where were my parents? Who would take care of us? Everyone was stunned. Just stunned.

May 25, 2002

Saturday Scruples

1. At a video store, someone is about to rent a movie you've seen. It's really bad. Do you say something?

No. If I had to suffer thru it, so do they! :-p Seriously, tho - to each his own, and all that.

2. Your former lover becomes famous. A tabloid offers you $50,000 for nude pictures and a "tell all." Do you sell?

Is that all? Hell, no! That'd be peanuts for what I'd have, baby!

3. You decide not to hire someone because he's wearing a nose ring. When he asks why he didn't make it, do you give the real reason?

Why would a nose ring be a problem? If it's really a "doesn't fit the company image" thing, ask if he'll take it out if necessary. Too petty to make it a big deal. Take a lot more than that for me not to hire him.

The morning routine: listen to the birds and contemplate life until Mr. Boo takes a flying leap to the chest, leaving no doubt as to how soon I need to get out of bed. Feet on the floor, stretch. Open Beaner's door and let PurC out, pit stop in the bath, then the Whisker Run Obstacle Course to the kitchen. If I'm lucky, I make it with no bruised toes and banged-up ankles and with all articles still in their rightful places on desk and shelves.

PurC heads for the scratching post, The Princessa slinks under the chairs to take up her defensive position while Mr. Boo heads off to the box for his morning constitutional. This gives me a clear sprint to the sink. Fill the coffee pot (one of these days, I will decide to set the automatic brew.) Grab the cat food can and pop the lid, alerting the slinky one that breakfast is imminent and he must now keep me captive at my post until the job is done by winding himself around my ankles. Can upside down on the Boomer's plate - he's a gravy fan. A dollop on PurC's plate and place it on the floor before I go headlong into the stove. Another dollop and mash on The Princessa's, served up to a chorus of "hurry up, I need to get this eaten and get out of here before that juvenile starts up again." Then a mash and mix for Mr. Boo, more gravy than meat, a little more to PurC. By this time Princessa is done and itching to get out the door. PurC finishes his plate and whatever's left on the others, then heads downstairs. The course is down and it's safe to grab the coffee and head to the sunroom, check out the day, and write my morning pages (ok, not faithfully, but I'm getting better.) A little time to myself before the StringBean wakes.

It's nice to have a routine.

May 24, 2002

Good heavens, we can't risk that.

So, that leaves skewering them with a salad fork or beaning them with a Tourister? Or maybe we could fling those cute little peanut packets at them.

Police said search teams combing the park last summer never reached the sloping thicket where Levy's remains were found, the Washington Post reported today.

Please. What am I missing? Why did it take so long to find this woman's body? Didn't the clues point to her going to the park? Jogging in the park? What better area to hide a body? Just push it down the "sloping thicket".

Doesn't the police department have access to their own dogs?

She only took her keys. She searched for an old mansion in the park. Women have been attacked in that area before. It's heavily wooded, lots of places to hide a body.

Nah, too obvious. Let's try to pin it on the politician...

May 21, 2002

My daughter is going to meet her father (for the first time in her memory) tomorrow. I am both thrilled and terrified. She has wanted this for so long and he has finally come around. But what will the results be? Will she be even more confused? Angry? Will he be a jerk? Or will he finally realize the harm he has done, be willing to take responsibility for it, and help her? The great unknown. Like taking a leap off a giant precipice and not being sure your chute will open, or if you even have one.

May 20, 2002

I already know I'm older than dirt, especially perusing some of these blogs, but now it's official. I remembered all but 2 - which goes to say I'm probably older than those of you who remembered all of them. My memory is already starting to go...

From the If Project... If family or friends had issues with the one you are romantically involved with, would you listen? How much influence would you allow others to have on your relationship?

There was a time when my thoughts would have been "No way!" "Who knows better than me?" and "You don't know him like I do." Now? That's crap.

Passion blinds you. No matter how rationale and intelligent you are, it smacks you stupid. The smart ones know this, and wait for it to pass before committing themselves. The rest of us are walking into walls and calling it love.

Your parents have seen you go through changes from birth to puberty to adulthood. Your mother remembers your undying love for the rock-star-of-the-moment. The piano lessons. Tap lessons. Swimming. When you wanted to grow up to be a ballerina.

Your friends have seen you sober, drunk, stupid, witty, and scared, and stuck thru all of it. They've seen you thru short hair, long hair, the purple fiasco, and every diet known to man.

All that information amounts to something. These people have the goods on you.

Maybe it's because I'm well past 20-something. I believed then that if I didn't already have all the answers, I had a better interpretation of the questions. When I believed that the people who raised me had no idea who I really was. And they didn't know this person like I did, so how could they judge?

Well, I'm older now. And a Mom. I can smell Eau de Jerk from a thousand feet. You can change the package, but there are basic, universal truths. Baby, I got radar. It's a post-partum gift. As long as it's someone after her.

Me, that's a different story. Now, I listen to the people who know things about me even I have forgotten, or won't readily admit.

If your friends don't like him, your family can't stand him, your neighbors don't trust him, and the people you work with are wondering if your judgment really is that poor, and should they start locking the safe?... do you need to be hit by a 2x4? After all, they like you. Their judgment can't be all bad.

Take it all with the proverbial grain of salt, but take it. Your parents will always think no one is good enough. They have their own issues, many of them dealing with nursing homes. Your friends also have their own agendas, mainly, can you still come out to play and what if you make them repay all those loans? But if their overwhelming consensus is negative, and for some pretty solid reasons, you'd be an idiot not to listen. If this person truly loved you, why would he want you to be separated from the people who have loved you, and loved you longer? Bottom line - no way.

This I know for sure. Just ask me about my ex...

May 16, 2002

Bitch Blog. Here we go:

I'm all out of sorts these past few days. Don't know what is wrong, although my horoscope seems to allude to this kind of thing. I should have read ahead and prepared. But I didn't, so this is the result.

Mom Rant: Why is it that your darling children seem to forget all the hours you slaved over the laundry, especially in a house that rarely uses a dryer and chooses to hang clothes to dry? The gathering and sorting, handwashing (yeah, a little), hanging, taking down, folding, putting away? Then, when they get old enough to do it themselves, the nagging? So do you think, in appreciation of all your hard work in making sure they do not need to greet the world naked and shivering every day, they might hang up some of your clothes? Like the few you threw in their load of laundry just to fill it out? But noooo - there you find them, days later, crumpled and damp in the bottom of the basket. Do I have cooties? It's not like it was my underwear or anything. Sheesh.

Club Rant: I am cursed to be the current prez of a testosterone inundated computer club. These guys are an exercise in futility. Honestly, that territorial shit has got to go. But the worst is the guy who is still acting, I kid you not, like a high-school girl. You know, the sweet to your face, monster behind your back? I swear his head must spin when I turn around. And it's not just to me. This guy gets his greatest kicks out of sending email with the express purpose of pissing people off (which he admits, BTW) then pulling the "Who, me?" act when he gets called on it - and call him on it I do. I fire one back, and you do not hear me say "oh my, you must have misunderstood, I didn't mean that, no, not at all..." I stand behind those words. I wish he'd stand behind a few. Or under them. He does this to the people who are doing the most, too - these people are difficult enough to find in any type of club - so what, precisely does this accomplish? Of course. The attention angle. Ok, scratch high school - subtract a few years.

Biz Rant: Yeah, I know money is tight. It is for me, too. And I'm the single parent here, bub. So the next time you want to tap me, yet again, for "a little advice", I'm sending a friggin' bill. A big one.

May 15, 2002

I'm reading too many blogs with astute observations, witty quips, etc. Wondering what to write about my fairly boring life. Then realizing it isn't boring when I re-read it later - it's an interesting journal of my life - not designed to be particularly entertaining. The fact that I'm here at all. How I spend my days. I'm content enough with the way things are, and working to improve the things that don't satisfy me.

I am really not out to write the next great literary masterpiece. Just bits and pieces of my existence, something to amuse my descendants. I am fascinated enough with the writings I find from my ancestors - their everyday lives and the times in which they lived. Why can't I see the same in my scribbles?

May 12, 2002

It's Mothers Day. Where do I begin?

The scary, hopeful, amazing journey of pregnancy? The realization that this is a trip of uncertain destination with no return ticket. The labor. Is it labor? What is it supposed to feel like? No one can really tell me. The mystery of it all.

The amazing thought that you have created a human being. From scratch. No kits. No instructions.

Those first few days, wondering if I was doing the wrong thing. Had I done the wrong thing, making this commitment to this man. Deep in my heart, knowing this was the single most important thing in my life, this child. This child would be special. This child was meant to be. Hoping I wouldn't screw it up too bad.

I realize now what a struggle it was. Knowing this man that was my husband did not want this responsibility. That he had just been playing a game, with unexpected consequences. Knowing my parents did not approve of this man, of having this child. No one was happy - except, secretly, me. An immediate bond. This life. This child. More precious than gold.

The difficult birth. The problems. Not what the movies showed. No joyous moment of cradling this new life to my chest, of her hearing my voice, getting my scent, seeing the blur of my smile. A table in the distance, a crowd of hospital green, murmurs. Confusion. Exhaustion.

I still can't stand to look at those pictures of the early days. So thin, so fragile. My fault, all my fault, wasn't it? I didn't nurture her, this body. Why didn't I know more? All the baby-sitting, the daycare jobs. But not for those early days. The wisdom of those days needs to be passed on. It was not. I must make sure I do.

Then, the wisdom and experience of that wonderful nurse. The doctors with all their tests and dire predictions. The answer so simple. Forest for the trees. They studied the trees, she saw the forest. And my baby thrived. My favorite picture of that chubby, smiling cherub. The one that shows I finally got it right, knew what I was doing, got it together despite everything else that was falling apart.

My marriage finally revealed for the sham it was. A deception. A deception that became a trap of his own making. I've released the hunter, with no regrets. Except for my child. She deserved better. A father who finds as much joy in her existance as I do.

I love you, Bean. With all my heart.

May 11, 2002

My laptop is back in action. After months of getting the hinge-thingie fixed, then the power cord breaking, then financing a major expedition to find the replacement part on the Dell site, then taking my own sweet time actually ordering the damn thing, I finally have all the parts I need, in working order. Sweet.

It's been out of commission for so long, it's like getting a new laptop. When my daughter was a baby, I used to take half of her toys and hide them for a few months. When the toys she was left to play with lost their appeal, I'd switch them. It was almost like Christmas in July.

Inadvertantly, I've used the same psychology on myself...

May 6, 2002

"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." -- Agatha Christie

Yes, Blog, I have been neglecting you, despite good intentions. But the weather has turned and the garden chores call, and I am still in my "winter out of shape" phase - which means it takes me twice as long to get anything done. I'm busy edging gardens, pulling weeds, and spreading mulch. I'm also involved in too many organizations, on too many boards. That will change soon, thankfully. I'm tired of spreading myself too thin.

I, too, need some edging and a thicker layer of mulch.

Apr 29, 2002

Been reading about Kimberly's problems with her kids. Custody issues are a bitch. It's hard to tell where the judges will go; you are on equal footing in the courtroom unless the substantiated evidence proves otherwise. Even if they sympathize with you, they have to follow the law.

Fighting for your kids is hard. You have to be passionate, but not too much. Reasonable and willing to negotiate. Your ex is not the worst creature on earth - remember, you had kids with him, so what does that say about your judgment? These judges have seen it all, and they sum you up fast. But stupid, they're not.

My ex once got busted because he wore the wrong t-shirt to court. A brand-new t-shirt advertising a whale watch in New England. The judge remarked how nice it was and casually asked him where he got it. He proceeded to tell her about his trip, about taking someone else's child, about how much she loved whales - all the while thinking what a good guy it made him seem.

The hunter sets the trap, covering it with pine needles.

Then she asked him how much the trip cost.

Snap. The mechanism is spring. The animal senses the danger, but realizes it is too late to retreat.

Hesitantly, he gave her a figure. A ridiculously and suspiciously small figure. For an overnight trip to New England. For two. (Well, for obviously more than two - who's going to let their child go on vacation with their "friend" without them?) A figure that just happened to be the same amount as that of his weekly child support obligation. Which he wasn't paying. Now, explain to the judge again how you spent the money you should have been paying to your own child on someone else's kid?

Spring! The trap closes.

And I didn't have to say a word.

Apr 26, 2002

The Friday Five

1. What are your hobbies? Computers. Gardening. Books.

2. Do you collect anything? Pens. It's not intentional. I just keep hoping one of them might give me better penmanship. Or if I collect enough, maybe I can trade them all in for a good Waterman?

3. Is there a hobby you're intersted in, but just don't have the time/money to do? Photography. Of course, that lack of any actual talent thing getting in the way, too.

4. Have you ever turned a hobby into a money-making opportunity? Computers. Well, whether I can consider it "money-making" is still up for debate. The electric company, phone company, insurance company, and landlord would be on the "con" team.

5. Besides web related stuff (burbs, rings, etc.) what clubs do you belong to? Any that could increase the "pro" side of the "money-making" debate (see question #4). Networking groups, Chamber of Commerce, business associations. And the local computer user group. Think I need a little balance in my life?

Reading this entry brought back memories of my own daughter's operation, at the age of eight months. She, too, was born with a cleft, but luckily only of the soft palate - the area at the back of the mouth. Much easier to repair, and involving no facial surgery. So for the most part, no reminders, no memories. Except for The Mom.

I still remember that horrible feeling of turning my innocent baby over to the arms of the nurse. They would not let me go into surgery, of course. They would not even let me in the recovery room. I didn't realize then how I could have insisted on it - I am not one of those "mouthy mothers" with that fight-to-the-death attitude about their children. Sometimes I wish I had that kind of blind courage.

I can still picture her face as the nurse walked down the hall. The confusion in her eyes. "Where am I going?" "Why aren't you with me?" I'm sure this was all in my head. Short of a few minutes of curiousity, my daughter probably thought it a wonderful adventure. But to me, it was possibly the last glimpse I would see of my smiling baby's face. It was, after all, major surgery involving anesthesia, and the numerous forms requiring my signature was evidence of the danger for one so young.

The hours waiting for the surgery to finish were unbearable. Even more so with the presence of her father, my soon-to-be-ex, who drove us down to the hospital with barely enough to pay for parking, let alone to eat (we would have to be there most of the day.) Not that I would be able to consume anything but water. But this was the person who was supposed to be looking out for us? That I was supposed to be able to lean on for comfort and security? Totally, totally unprepared. Probably because my mother was also coming, and he knew she would have the resources to pick up the slack. The attitude, I'm afraid, has not changed. Many years later, he's still expecting everyone else to pick up the slack.

When they wheeled her out of recovery, I was a stew of emotions - the desire to cry, jump for joy, and break into hysterical laughter. So relieved that everything had gone well. Pained by the look of the tube stuck into her nose so the swelling would not interfere with her breathing. And amused by the sight of this tiny body on this huge hospital gurney - she was barely as big as the pillow, a tiny speck in this sea of white cotton. Seeing her mommy. A big smile. "Geez, Mom, it was a breeze. What were you so worried about?"

She's still doing this to me. Does she know that my heart, in her hands, is a bouncing ball?

Apr 25, 2002

Came across the Chaos Calculator at this site, so I entered 2 for family members (thinking immediate family only.) Pets was not hard, of course. The score? 25. I stumbled on it again at this site and I decided I really should add my parents in. Altho they don't live with us, we see them often and they are the people I go to first when chaos reigns. Final score? 2401.

'Nuf said.

The cats are eyeing the backyard savannah, dreaming of prey and great feasting. If the rains do not stop, it will take a sickle to get the grass under control - I managed to get the front and side yards mowed, but my hands were freezing and the sun was going down, so I had to come in and take refuge under the afghans. That was two days ago. It's been raining since, which only makes the grass grow faster.

Timing your life to the growth spurts of grass. Just one of the many joys of being a homeowner.

Apr 19, 2002

T-storms blew in this afternoon. Walked out to bring in the quilt I had earlier put out to dry and there was a flurry of white petals from the various flora. Like walking into a sudden blizzard. Very surreal.

The storm is over now. I love the way the light changes during late afternoon storms, a chiaroscuro painting. And that fresh, clean scent. The exaggerated contrast of the old white dogwood against the new green foliage and growing grass.

Life here is good.

Apr 18, 2002

I've gotten lost in the blogs again. It stuns me how much I've missed this other world, one that I'd inhabited with my mind instead of my body. I kept up with a few blogs while I was away, but rarely got sucked in. I got sucked into the vacuous cathode ray - which is pretty sad, since I don't even have cable. It was a white noise, no thought process involved, and needed at the time. But my brain is warped now, and I want it back.

Another unseasonably hot day yesterday. The neighbors have switched on the ac, and my daughter says the school is like a refrigerator.

More of the tree is down, and some mulch spread, but no other yardwork - it's just too hot. Need to get the garden planted, but first need to get rid of the weeds. So, ok, Gaia. You are in charge. I got it. Now knock it off!

Apr 16, 2002

Unbearably warm today. I'm not ready for summer to just in like a guest you're not prepared for. I'm still scouring my wardrobe for decent spring clothes, since everything is starting to wear out. It's no problem when I'm banging at the keys - I can come up with any number of comfortable things that I wouldn't be caught in the dark in - but I do have an occasional networking meeting or even scarcer visit to a client site (unfortunately) so I do have to look "professional" now and then. Which is getting harder.

You see, I also have a pre-teen that is having far too many growth spurts. And is far too picky about her attire. So what little money there is at the moment goes for things like shoes. Thankfully, I get to wear her cast-offs, which aren't too worn. But I still can't wear them to a business meeting.

Kid's gonna have to aspire to a higher degree of fashion if I have to resort to stealing from her closet.

A faster new memory technology has been developed which could end the need to reboot computers after crashing. Well, if Sharp really does follow thru on this, what will I do with half of my day?

Ok, so maybe's that's an exaggeration. But the time I spend rebooting this thing is significant.

Guess I need to think about taking up a hobby.